A message from Executive Director David Gillanders:
Dear Friend of Pathways,
I wanted to take this opportunity to write to you personally about an important change coming to Pathways of Hope.
In our work ending homelessness for families within the last few years, we have been seeing patterns – particularly for large families. We have served single-parent homeless households of up to eight people. One parent with seven children. Can you imagine the economic pressure a family of that size must feel?
The average rent on a three-bedroom apartment is over $2,500 per month – if you can find one, and if you can afford the deposit (which is two times the rent!). Our homeless families are often working for wages that leave them incapable of affording the extremely high cost of rent in Orange County and so much of Southern California.
A single medical emergency, a single traumatic experience, and any semblance of stability can vanish. This is how families end up living in cars. In make-shift encampments. Without a home. The realities of the economics of homelessness, particularly family homelessness, is an area Pathways of Hope has had to adapt to.
On top of this, the funding for programming has also changed dramatically. We are seeing a hopeful and inspiring decline in family homelessness due to robust coordination between agencies through the Family Solutions Collaborative, a collection of 22 agencies working in partnership to end homelessness for families across Orange County. Pathways of Hope plays important leadership roles on many fronts in this collaborative, and I couldn’t be more proud of our organization for the many roles we play in this effort.
But we see a skyrocketing increase in the number of homeless individual adults and young adults in our community. This is understandably and rightfully inviting questions around how funding for homeless services should be allocated. As a result, even Pathways of Hope has seen rescissions in support for certain programmatic functions. These factors have led us to an important decision. As you know, we own various properties on West Amerige in Fullerton that have served as the cornerstone, the very heart of Pathways since the mid-1980s when our property acquisition efforts first took place.
Many of you reading this have been involved with Pathways, formerly Fullerton Interfaith Emergency Service, for years. Some of you have supported us for decades. And some of you have even supported us since our founding 44 years ago! Your efforts over the last several decades will now pay off again today.
Using these units on Amerige as family shelter has put us in a bit of a conundrum for some time now. If we know definitively that housing – and housing that family can afford – is what solves homelessness, then how can we utilize these assets to permanently end homelessness for large families? What is affordable to these families where wages can’t keep pace with the cost of housing, or childcare, or simply survival? Would the units on Amerige serve a more noble, more mission-aligned, more community-positive purpose if they were used to permanently END homelessness for families with incredible, nearly insurmountable barriers like the ones mentioned above?
The short answer is yes. We know that housing is what ends homelessness, and we believe with every fiber of our being that if children are going to be homeless, it should be as brief and infrequent as possible and that their homelessness should end with a place to call home.
As we head into the 2019 holiday season, Pathways of Hope is proud to say that this will be the case for four homeless families. The children in these families, as many as 20 of them, will have a home for the holidays. A Christmas tree to gather around, a Menorah to light, a place to look forward to gathering for Ramadan feasts at the end of the day next Spring. A place to play, a place to cook and eat meals with their parents, a place to make new friends. A place to study and achieve academically. A place to be safe and healthy. A place to call home.
Through a creative, innovative, and exciting partnership with Orange County United Way and the Orange County Housing Authority called “Welcome Home OC,” we are converting four of our units on Amerige into permanent affordable housing for these families.
These families will have the guarantee of being able to pay a rent they can afford. They will have the platform to rebuild their lives with the safety and stability of a home. They will have exactly that: a home. Something we should want for all our homeless community members, neighbors, and friends.
Trust that Pathways is still absolutely committed to offering shelter to homeless families, and will continue to provide shelter and case management in Fullerton and Anaheim. We are still committed to providing a flexible and diverse continuum of care to aid our neighbors who are struggling with homelessness. We are simply shifting our approach to maximize the resources we have available to make a lasting difference in the lives of our neighbors in need.
We know that if you are reading this letter and made it this far, it is because you are a person committed to supporting our community’s most vulnerable residents, and you do that through supporting the work of Pathways of Hope. We know that you too will be excited about this change and the impact it is going to have on the lives and stories of four families that are homeless and fighting to stay afloat today, but tomorrow will have a home.
I believe that is why Pathways of Hope is here, and I believe it is why you are here alongside of us.
Thank you for everything you do to support our agency and the people we serve. Please reach out to me directly with any questions. I am always available to all of you. Have a great holiday season. I wish you and your family well!
With deepest gratitude,
(714) 680-3691 ext. 201